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What Is EECapacity and How Does It Affect Your Community?

2012 July 13
by Marta del Campo

Non-traditional Environmental Educator, birder at heart, and lover of its community. Washington, DC

Urban populations have exploded, making it an enormous challenge to maintain a healthy and clean environment for all. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is, in part, dedicated to training and guiding environmental educators about how to improve the quality of life in communities across the U.S. The goal is to inform people about environmental issues and problems in their community so they can take action to improve the environment for themselves, their families, and their communities.  In many places, EPA environmental education programs have been a complete success. However, it is clear that as urban communities become more diverse, non-traditional, and mobile, fewer people care or pay attention to local environmental issues, or to educational activities to improve their neighborhood.

Community garden in Washington, DC


Through a series of workshops, online courses, professional learning communities, and social networking opportunities, the EECapacity group is bringing established and urban environmental educators together. Participants share information, methods, and resources, forming a support network to improve environmental education in such a way that people want to participate to improve their local environment and have a healthier life.

In May, I had the opportunity to participate in one of the EECapacity workshops in Washington, DC. Participants came from across the U.S. and Mexico to share their experiences, ideas, and educational methods for reaching even the most diverse communities. One of the most beautiful experiences was the opportunity to meet with several of our Celebrate Urban Birds partners. Some of them came from far-away states, others from Mexico, but all with the will to help improve the environment as part of the EECapacity network. It was wonderful to learn about their experiences, and how birds help people in their communities to care about nature, birds, and their neighborhoods.


2-day accumulation of garbage in bandalong trash trap in local stream. Washington, DC.

It was wonderful to see other workshop participants become interested in Celebrate Urban Birds. Many were interested in learning how the project helps birds and how, by an indirect and unconventional route, it educates and promotes interest in caring for local habitat, birds, and the community as a whole. To us, it was also very interesting to learn about other organizations participating, and about innovative projects people are working on all over the country to connect communities to their local environment.

One of the five days in the workshop was dedicated to touring the DC area. We saw marvelous green areas around the capital and some of the community projects focused on developing more environmentally friendly neighborhoods. These projects were in areas of the city which have been difficult to reach with traditional environmental education methods. In part, the dream in these communities is to blend nature with city life and get people to care about nature in an urban community context. We saw people cleaning streams and parks, greening the open abandoned spaces, planting with their families, friends, and neighbors at schools, around corners, at their homes, and many other places.

Visiting these local communities was really inspiring! People really seemed to care and have hope. Get inspired to do some greening of your own with loved ones and people you know in your community. As a result, you may see more birds, flowers, and smiling neighbors. Take care of your neighborhood. You do not need much money or time to improve your surroundings, and enjoy your community.

If you’d  like to learn more about EECapacity, click here.

If you would like  to find groups or organizations engaged through EECapacity that could help you to green and improve your neighborhood, click here.

If you are looking for materials and resources to share with your community with a vision for a more environmentally and friendly  neighborhood, click here.

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